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    Sunday, August 26, 2007

    Sunday Entertainment: Some of the most entertaining reading can be found on the "Letters" page of the Sunday New York Times Book Review, where writers often can't resist the temptation to defend themselves from bad reviews. case in point:

    ...In the next to last paragraph, Richard Brookhiser wrote: “I cannot recommend this book, however. Kluger’s writing is some of the worst I have ever had to read. ... If I had not agreed to review this book, I would have stopped after five pages. After 600, I felt as if I were inside a bass drum banged on by a clown.”

    ...Suddenly I understood how mistaken the Book Review’s critic had been about my last book, “Ashes to Ashes,” in his highly laudatory review — and how besotted the jurors were who voted it the Pulitzer Prize for nonfiction, not usually awarded to wretched writers (I being the fortunate exception). How foolish, I thought, the Times columnist Bob Herbert had been for referring to my “Simple Justice” as a “brilliant and powerful book.” And how blind the former Times reporter Anthony Lukas, a garlanded book author, had been for stating that my book “The Paper: The Life and Death of The New York Herald Tribune” was “probably the best book ever written about an American newspaper ... a brilliant piece of social history.” And how insensitive to hideous prose were the judges who placed both those books among the five finalists for the National Book Award in history for the years in which they were issued.

    Here at last, I appreciatively recognized, was a critic astute and forthright enough to do for me what no other reviewer had done before: tell me I am a clown, not a writer. How sad I was for the publisher of my four books of social history, Alfred A. Knopf, which has gained its eminence by bringing out books by similarly dreadful authors. How bad I felt for the four eminent writers and scholars — Joseph Ellis, David Kennedy, Justin Kaplan and Dan T. Carter — who had unaccountably offered admiring words about “Seizing Destiny” for the back of the book jacket. And how insensitive Kirkus was for calling it, in a starred prepublication review, “brilliant.”

    ...It was an honor to be so subtly awakened from my self-deception by Mr. Brookhiser, who has honed his own skills by laboring for 30 years on the staff of National Review, a beacon of insightful commentary as well as fair and balanced judgment. Thanks, too, to your staff for selecting him. As we say out here in Berkeley, that iniquitous den of bluest liberalism, have a nice day.

    posted by Sydney on 8/26/2007 11:16:00 AM 1 comments


    What a thin-skinned guy. Obviously, a typical liberal congratulated by the usual liberal suspects.

    I haven't read the book or the review, but it must be a terribly boring book judging by the illogical indignation registered by the sad, pathetic author.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:27 AM  

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